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More than 100 days have passed since Breonna Taylor was brutally murdered by police as she slept in her bed. A law banning no-knock warrants in Louisville was enacted and protesters have taken to the streets to demand justice, but the three officers responsible for Taylor’s death remain free.
Now, the Louisville Metro Government’s oversight committee will investigate the mayor’s administration over decisions following the 26-year-old’s death. Government Oversight and Audit Chair Brent Ackerson (D-26) and Vice-Chair Anthony Piagentini (R-19) announced they would file a bipartisan resolution to launch the investigation, WKLY reported.
The oversight committee will also probe “government transparency and the failure of such, the events surrounding the death of David McAtee and the use of force during portions of the protests.”
McAtee, who owned YaYa’s BBQ in West Louisville, was fatally shot by police officers on June 1. The 53-year-old chef was known to be a caring community member who fed police officers for free and was a personal friend of Metro Council President David James, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.
He was at his BBQ restaurant when the Louisville Metro Police Department and the National Guard arrived to break up a crowd. Footage showed police firing pepper balls at YaYa’s prompting McAtee to fire his weapon. Police respond with more than a dozen shots, killing McAtee.
The circumstances of McAttee’s killing remain under investigation.
“The matters to be investigated pertain to knowledge the public has demanded and has a right to know about. The Metro Council will ensure that the citizens of Louisville receive the transparency they deserve,” Ackerson said in a statement cited by WKLY.
The resolution from Ackerson and Piagentini will be read at Metro Council’s meeting on July 23.
Photographer Shot While At Protest Demanding Justice for Breonna
Tyler Gerth, 27, was shot and killed on June 27 while attending protests in Louisville. The alleged shooter was identified as Steven Lopez, according to an arrest citation cited by The New York Times. Lopez was charged with murder and first-degree wanton endangerment.
Lopez participated in the protests and was asked repeatedly to leave by other protesters “due to his disruptive behavior,” officials said on June 28. He had been arrested a few times over the past several weeks, authorities said.
Footage shows a man shooting more than a dozen times into an encampment at Jefferson Square Park. Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher said Lopez only shot Gerth. The alleged gunman was then shot in the leg by bystanders who were defending themselves.
Officer Involved in Taylor’s Murder Fired
Brett Hankison, one of the three officers involved in Taylor’s murder, was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department on June 23. Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said the officer “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he fired 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment, CNN reported.
“I find your conduct a shock to the conscience,” Schroeder told Hankison in the termination letter. “I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion.”
The former officer appealed his termination a day later. In a letter to LMPD, attorney David Leightty said his client should not be punished until investigations into the shooting by the Kentucky Attorney General, FBI and the Kentucky State Police were complete.
“Brett Hankison should not be punished unless the facts show he committed wrongdoing, and the facts are not yet in,” Leightty wrote.
Hankison also appealed to get his job back with the merit board that deals with the appeals process, CNN reported.
The other two officers involved, identified as Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Officer Myles Cosgrove, remain with the LMPD. They are on administrative reassignment.
According to the Louisville Courier Journal, at least two other police officers were on the scene of the shooting that night. Detective Joshua Jaynes, who secured the no-knock warrant that led to Taylor’s death, was also placed on administrative leave on June 10.
How to Demand Justice
- Sign this change.org petition that calls for justice. The petition, which has more than 8 million signatures, is a call to action for Governor Andy Beshear, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, Senator Rand Paul, District Attorney Tom Wine and President Donald Trump.
- Donate to the GoFundMe to help Breonna Taylor’s family. You can donate to the GoFundMe here.
- Email the Kentucky Attorney General, the Mayor of Louisville and the Governor of Kentucky directly. The link here gives you a pre-written email that is already addressed to officials who can get justice.
- Donate to local bail out funds or mutual aid funds.
At the end of each story about the Black Lives Matter protests occurring around the country, we will share the following information on how best to protect yourself:
Protecting Yourself From Tear Gas
- Before being exposed: Do not wear contact lenses or makeup. This could trap the tear gas on your skin and eyes. Try to wear protective goggles if possible. Remember to wear a mask, which you should already be wearing to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Wear long sleeves and long pants to protect as much of your skin as possible.
- If exposed: Get yourself out of the area immediately. The CDC recommends seeking higher ground as most Riot Control Agents (RCAs) are heavier than air.
- Clothing: The RCAs will have contaminated your clothing, be sure to remove the clothes as soon as possible and discard. Clothing that needs to be removed over the head should be cut instead. The CDC recommends wearing rubber gloves and putting the contaminated clothes in a bag and then seal that bag in another bag.
- Exposed Skin: The International News Safety Institute recommends washing with soap and water. First, shower in cold water and then in warm water. Do not bathe. Wash your face as soon as you can, but do not rub the skin as you don’t want to activate the powder in tear gas. Do not rinse your eyes and face with milk, instead use water.
Protecting Yourself: Technology Edition
- Smartphone: Smartphones can easily give out information that police can later use against protesters. Turn off your location data and remove facial and fingerprint recognition. If you need to communicate with friends or family, be sure to download and use the Signal app, which encrypts messages. WIRED recommends Android users head to Settings, then Security and make sure the Encrypt Disk option is selected.
- Social Media: Do not post photos or videos with geotags and consider blurring the faces of protesters when sharing information on social media.
- Police Conduct App: The ACLU has created the Mobile Justice app to record police conduct. You can learn more about the app here.
- Identifying Clothing or Tattoos: It is highly recommended you wear clothing that is not easily identifiable. Be sure to cover any tattoos that can be used by law enforcement to identify you.
- In Case You’re Arrested: Write the number down of a lawyer, organization or friend/family member that you can call if you’re arrested on your skin. Be sure to have a form of ID in your pocket.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.